EXCLUSIVE DOMESTIC BLISS FOR SNOOKER ACE
By Peter Robertson 27/05/2007
ROCKET Ronnie O'Sullivan is preparing to savour a life of domestic bliss.
And the demon of the baize believes a few years of peaceful family life might help him reclaim his status as the world's finest snooker player.
O'Sullivan's partner Jo is about to give birth to their second child. They already have a one-year-old daughter, Lilly.
Ronnie said: "As a snooker player you're always travelling and playing. So for the last nine or 10 months I haven't been able to be there all day every day with Lily.
"I've only spent the odd few days or afternoons or whatever with her because you're always out working on the road.
"But since the World Championship a couple of weeks ago I've left my cue round at my friend's house and I've been devoting all my time to being with my daughter.
"I've had so much quality time with her that, to be honest with you, it's been the best time of my life. Amazing. I'm so lucky to be able to do that.
"With the new one coming along, I don't want to miss out on the younger years. It's made me think about next year with the tournaments - I'm thinking maybe I'll have two or three years. I'll still play, but maybe snooker will become a lot less of a priority, which will be hard for me because I'm a competitor and very driven at what I do.
"When I go to these tournaments, I want to win and I want to put on a show for the people. But I really don't want to miss out on my children's upbringing because it's the best thing I've ever experienced."
He added: "I'm glad I put in all that effort in my early years, because now I've got the choice to slow down for three or four years and enjoy the family time.
"And, when they get a bit older, they can come to tournaments with me."
But before his rivals think O'Sullivan is writing off his career, he insists he still is capable of more world title glory.
"I know I'm capable, but I know I need to sharpen up my game a little bit," he said. "I think having a family will help me because I get so locked in to what I'm doing that sometimes I'm too involved.
"When I have Jo and the family with me at tournaments, I seem to play well. When she doesn't come with me, I don't do so well. I'm the kind of person who wants his family there with him."
O'Sullivan was visibly moved when we spoke at the launch of the Paul Hunter Foundation, in memory of the snooker star who died last October, days before his 28th birthday.
O'Sullivan and Jo had driven from their Essex home to Goodwood to attend the event organised by BGC Partners, Hunter's former sponsors.
"When Paul died, I didn't take it very well," said an emotional O'Sullivan. "It never really hit me until I actually got to his funeral.
"He was young and a fighter, and he had this happy, smiling personality which I thought would pull him through the cancer.
"When I got to the church and I saw his wife Lindsey and their little baby Evie, I thought, 'This is wrong'. I took it very badly.
"Paul is in my thoughts a lot. I have a little girl myself and to know Paul is not able to have that time with his family hurts.
"It's an awful thing to have happened. Horrible. One of the saddest things I've ever experienced.
"Losing Paul really puts everything into perspective."